I will fight for the rights of the oppressed!! Apart, of course, from me.
Monday was Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and there was a march and a rally in my little town. I didn’t much want to go, but I ended up going because my blonde, blue-eyed daughter informed me there was no need to march; we live in a post racial society.
She’s ten. I don’t think she got as much from it as I would like. She referred to “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” as “that song from Young Frankenstein.”
There were speeches and songs, including a High Schooler who spoke passionately and eloquently about ending violence. She said we had to stop having Trayvon Martin incidents, Columbines, and Sandy Hooks.
She got a standing ovation.
And every incident of violence she mentioned was one committed by men.
If another group were responsible for violence, we’d notice. Hell, we’d notice and we’d regulate. If all school shootings were by left-handers. Or gays. Or women. We’d make the connection.
A lot of people have made the connection that mass shooters tend to be on meds for mental illness. So, they say, we’d better give more help to the mentally ill—or control them better, depending on the commenter. Although it is a plain fact that a greater proportion of mass shootings were committed by men than by people with known mental illness, that fact goes unnoticed.
If that young woman had crossed every incidence of male violence off her list, she would have had NOTHING to talk about. But there she stood, taking responsibility, as a human, for acts for which her major identifiable trait excludes her, entirely.
This morning another headline had a theater shooting. A woman was the victim. The headlines didn’t even mention the shooter’s gender because it was understood that it was a man. Yet again, a man did the violence, and we shrug and make no connection to toxic masculinity. We don’t notice, and so we perpetuate that men’s violence is to be accepted. It’s sad, but to be accepted.
Why, why WHY are women willing to take responsibility for the acts of men? Why won’t we fight for ourselves?
It breaks my heart. When it doesn’t have me spitting mad.
I had the chance to hear Sonia Manzano, Maria from Sesame Street, speak at a conference. In addition to her acting on the show, she originated the song “Turn Back O Man,” in Godspell, and worked to include more Hispanic foods and cultural ideas on Sesame Street.
I could have cried. She spoke proudly about her work for Latin culture, and then explained why it was OK to have so few female Muppets. She explained, with no hint of understanding the absurdity, that since Muppets are quirky characters, we couldn’t have females. We’d think all women had eating disorders if Cookie were a girl, or that all women were OCD if Bert were.
Why don’t we think all men are OCD, or have eating disorders? Because, DUH, there are so many boy Muppets, and they are so individualized. The solution is MORE girl Muppets, not shrugging and accepting it.
She worked proudly and long, for her culture that includes men. But not for women.
When Rachel Dozenal, the NAACP president, turned out to be a white woman, I was not surprised, only sad. She must have been at least competent at advocating, because she was elected to an office. And she was, as it turns out, a member of several groups that need advocacy, both women and children of oppressive religious households. She fought long and hard for a group she could identify with but of which she was not really a member.
When Diana Spencer was Diana, Princess of Wales, she worked very hard for a lot of groups that interested but did not include her. What if she had put that same energy toward working for women, a group that not only included her but makes up over 50 percent of the population of Great Britain? (And if you think there’s no sexism in GB, you are sadly wrong.)
What if there were “end the violence” marches, protests, and boycotts every time a man killed his domestic partner?
We have got to stop being duped into fighting for anyone but ourselves. It has gone on for over a hundred years; at the end of the Civil War, former abolitionists working for the rights of freed slaves joined with suffragists and told them that after the women helped with former slave rights, they would give full support to rights of women. This did not happen. The rights of women are STILL behind the rights of black men.
We live in a time when you can be arrested, and rightly so, for calling a man the N-word, but the radio can play songs with b**** and w****.
We live in a time when marriage equality is finally the law of the land, but the right of a woman to reproduce, or not, is being increasingly threatened by laws men make.
This has got to stop.
Women: when you choose your cause, please, prioritize yourself.